Some of the most adored and well-known meals in the world may be found in the best Mediterranean foods. Many people also think that this varied food holds the secret to living a healthy life.
More individuals are unaware of the location, history, and dishes of Mediterranean cuisine. Therefore, you’ve come to the perfect site if you’re interested in learning more.
As we embark on an epic gastronomic tour of this stunning region and investigate 20 of its most delectable meals, get ready for your tongues to tingle.
If you want to incorporate more Mediterranean flavors into your diet, be sure to scroll to the bottom of this article. A list of nutrient-rich meal delivery services for Mediterranean-inspired dishes, or use our table of contents to jump there.
What is Mediterranean Food?
Simply put, the best Mediterranean food is derived from the countries and regions that surround the Mediterranean Sea.
Today, 23 countries are classified as Mediterranean. All of them bring a distinct set of flavors and techniques to Mediterranean cooking.
Where to find Mediterranean food
Mediterranean cuisine can be divided into three culinary regions. They are as follows:
- Eastern Mediterranean
- Southern Europe
- North Africa
Naturally, all three have a strong influence on one another. However, due to climate and cultural differences, each region has developed similar yet distinct cuisines.
Balkan, Greek, Turkish, Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Egyptian cuisines dominate Eastern Mediterranean cuisine.
Southern European cuisine includes Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Southern French dishes.
Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, and Libyan cuisines have a North African influence on Mediterranean cuisine.
Important ingredients of Mediterranean food
Fresh vegetables, tender meats, and a variety of flavors characterize Mediterranean food.
Experts, on the other hand, have defined three core ingredients on which all regions have essentially built their cuisines: olives, wheat, and grapes.
For thousands of years, the Persian region has grown olives. Today, the Mediterranean region produces 95% of the world’s olives.
As a result, olive oil has become synonymous with Mediterranean cooking, as well as the preferred cooking agent over butter, fats, and other oils.
Wheat cultivation in the Eastern Mediterranean region has been documented for nearly 10,000 years.
This is why bread is such an important component of Mediterranean cuisine, which eventually led to other wheat-based foods like Italian pasta.
Persia’s location near the Black Sea provided the ideal climate for grape cultivation. Grapes have been grown there for at least 8000 years, according to evidence.
20 Best Mediterranean Foods
1. Moroccan Tagine
Moroccan tagine is essentially a Mediterranean stew with a rich history and a wide range of varied recipes.
The term ‘tagine’, on the other hand, refers to the method of cooking, in a large and shallow pot over high heat, rather than the ingredients.
Tagine dates back to the 9th century when Arabic ruler Harun al-Rashid and his armies conquered much of North Africa and the Levant.
Moroccan tagine encompasses a wide range of recipes, both meat-based and vegetarian. Tagine’s allure stems from its sweet and savory fusions.
Moroccan tagine is brimming with spices. These recipes frequently include the flavors of cinnamon, saffron, and ginger, among others.
Then there’s the mingling of native fruits with traditional savory ingredients. One traditional Moroccan tagine pairs tender lamb with prunes or apricots.
Everything soaks up in a broth of fresh vegetables and spices. Moroccan tagine has wild and daring flavors that frequently bend the mind.
This is a Mediterranean food to add to your foodie bucket list because it is bold, rich, and outrageously delicious.
It’s time to travel to North Africa and highlight one of the most well-known vegetarian dishes: falafel.
Falafel is a simple but tasty recipe. Each ball is made from mashed chickpeas and a variety of herbs and spices.
These bite-sized treats are formed into small patties. They are then deep-fried and served as an individual dish or as part of a larger meal or meze.
The history of falafel is hazy. They are thought to have originated in ancient Egypt as a simple snack to replace meat during fasting.
Originally, lava beans were used in falafel. However, as this food spread north into the Middle East, chickpeas quickly replaced lava beans.
They can be found in fresh salads, and pita sandwiches, and dipped in a variety of tasty sauces, such as tahini, in Mediterranean cuisine.
3. Fattoush Salad
Our next stop is Lebanon, and a multi-layered salad that is central to Levantine cuisine: Fattoush salad.
‘Fattoush’ as a word comes from the Arabic word fatt, meaning ‘to crush’. Fattoush, like Greek salad, is an example of Mediterranean ingenuity.
It is believed that Lebanese farmers would gather any remaining scraps of pita bread.
They would then fry them in oil and toss them into a salad of vegetables they had on hand.
This recipe quickly became popular throughout the Levant. There are numerous variations throughout the region’s countries.
A traditional Fattoush salad today will include freshly chopped cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and radish.
A sprig of mint or a squeeze of lemon adds another layer to the warm dough and the crisp vegetables of the salad.
A true Mediterranean delight and one of the region’s most basic but diverse dishes.
Pita is one of the world’s most well-known and loved bread, thanks to its puffy texture and soothing flavor.
This rounded flatbread made of wheat flour has been wrapping around Middle Eastern delicacies for millennia.
Pita evolved from some of the earliest recorded flatbreads approximately 15,000 years ago.
It comes from the Fertile Crescent, a region of the Middle East that stretches from northern Egypt to the Persian Gulf.
However, it was the Greeks who really put pita on the map. The term “pita” first appeared in English in the 1930s.
Pita gets its distinctive ‘puffed’ appearance from being baked at extremely high temperatures, up to 475°F. This turns the water in the dough into steam.
This enables it to be used as a tasty pocket for a variety of delectable foods.
Some cuisines, however, such as Greek cuisine, prefer the pocket-less pita. Lower temperatures are used to bake it, resulting in a flatter, rounder pita.
Pita is the ‘popular kid’ at the Mediterranean cuisine school. It goes well with a wide variety of foods.
Greeks enjoy dipping it in rich sauces such as hummus. Turkish people stuff it with tender meat for their favorite kebabs. Cypriots stuff theirs with soft halloumi.
It’s the ideal bread for a hearty breakfast of hummus, pickled vegetables, and falafel in Palestine.
Pita will almost certainly appear in a variety of exciting recipes wherever your Mediterranean adventure takes you. Bread for every season!
5. Greek Salad
The Mediterranean climate allows for the cultivation of truly ripe and juicy vegetables and fruits.
Simply walking through a Greek, Turkish, or Italian food market will amaze you with the size and vibrant color of the fruits and vegetables.
In addition, in the sweltering heat, a cool and refreshing salad is often the order of the day.
A Greek salad is thought to have originated as a result of farmers in rural areas preparing a quick meal with what they had on hand.
The Greek salad is traditionally made with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and olives from the ground or markets.
Feta cheese is its distinguishing feature. A slice was traditionally used to coat the salad ingredients. Salads with cubed or crumbled feta are now available.
Drizzle the salad with olive oil and generously season it, and you’ve got a refreshing salad at the heart of Greek cuisine.
Couscous is such a simple Mediterranean food, but its impact on the region and the world has been enormous.
It is thought to have originated in Morocco and Algeria in the 11th century.
North African immigrants eventually brought the dish to France, where it quickly became popular.
The art of making couscous is enthralling. Couscous is simply thousands of tiny balls of crushed semolina.
Semolina is the leftover grains from durum wheat that are not classified as flour.
Couscous is made by spraying semolina with water and rolling it into tiny balls by hand. Finally, it is dusted with flour and drained through a sieve.
And where do we even begin when it comes to eating couscous? It can be found in salads, with vegetables, in stews, and even as a dessert in some places.
Couscous is yet another example of the incredible simplicity of Mediterranean cuisine. Creating national dishes out of leftover grains is quite an accomplishment!
Risotto is a simple and wholesome rich dish from northern Italy that has been eaten for centuries.
The broth in which the rice cooks is the key to risotto. Both should be cooked together until they reach a thicker, creamier consistency.
Many risotto flavors have been developed and curated over the years.
In traditional risotto recipes, parmesan cheese, onions, wine, and butter are cooked in broth with rice.
According to legend, a chef’s apprentice in 19th-century Italy added saffron to a rice dish at a large wedding.
According to legend, this is the very first ‘risotto’.
8. Pizza Margherita
This food requires no introduction. To stay true to our Mediterranean roots, we must return to 16th-century Naples, Italy.
Over time, oil, tomatoes, and even fish were added to the tops of flatbreads, which were referred to as ‘pizza’ at the time.
At the time, poor people’s food, and the variety of recipes gradually evolved over time.
And it is believed that the first pizza margherita was created in 1889 by chef Raffaele Esposito, a talented Neapolitan pizzamaker.
To honor Queen consort Margherita of Savoy, he created a pizza with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil as toppings.
The colors of Italy were represented by these three ingredients: white, red, and green.
Pizza is delicious all over Italy. But if you can get to Naples and order a rustic, stone-baked pizza, you’re in for a real treat.
The pizza margherita combines many of the classic Mediterranean food flavors. A hearty wheat bread base, juicy vegetables, soft cheese, and lots of olive oil.
9. Salade niçoise
But our stay in Nice is far from over. Another well-known Mediterranean dish from this city is the niçoise salad.
This fresh and vibrant salad, like many best Mediterranean food recipes, began as poor people’s food.
Throughout the 1800s, a dish of tomatoes and anchovies drizzled with olive oil was a quick and easy meal for the city’s poor.
The salad eventually made its way into restaurants and began to evolve. By the 1900s, salads were brimming with new and exciting ingredients.
The classic salade niçoise retains its core ingredients of tomato, anchovies, and olives.
As well as tossed salads, you’ll find a variety of fresh and crisp vegetables, such as peppers and shallots.
This is then topped with either a hard-boiled egg or a spread of canned tuna, drizzled with olive oil, and generously seasoned.
Salade niçoise, dubbed “the perfect summer salad” by many, is a delicious dish for a warm Mediterranean day.
10. Ful Medames
If it contains fava beans, it is almost certainly an Egyptian dish. Ful Medames is a traditional Egyptian dish that dates back thousands of years.
Ful Medames is essentially a fava bean stew. But this wholesome staple is so much more than just delicious fava beans.
Ful Medames come in a variety of flavors. The zest of lemon juice and the heat of chili peppers are both used to give the dish a kick.
Cumin, garlic, parsley, and onion, as well as other vegetables, are all included in the stew.
Once cooked, Ful Medames goes well with a variety of sides.
Egyptians enjoy this stew with a variety of ingredients such as vegetable oil, hard-boiled eggs, and cured beef.
The core recipe is thought to have changed little since ancient Egypt.
Naturally, this simple but filling stew spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East. It is popular in many countries.
Ful Medames is the best Mediterranean food dish that is great for breakfast or as a main course.